The Torah crown and Torah finials are the earliest of the Torah ornaments. These two items are linked together and historically speaking they appeared one after the other, first in the East, Egypt and Spain and later in the Sephardic Diaspora and the communities of Central and Eastern Europe. The crown and Torah finials are usually quite elegant and either silver or silver plated. Many of them are adorned with bells that chime to announce that the Torah scroll is being taken out of or returned to the Holy Ark.
The Torah crown first appeared in Babylon in the late 10th or early 11th century as a temporary crown that was made up of various decorative items, such as plants and jewelry. Eventually, a permanent Torah crown took form atop the Torah scroll. In most communities that house the Torah scroll in a solid wooden case, the crown is permanently affixed to the top portion of the case. In European and Sephardic communities where the Torah scrolls are covered with cloth mantles, the crown is removable and it may be used with or without the Torah finials, depending on the design of the specific ornaments. All Jewish communities, other than Morocco and Yemen, use Torah crowns and their varying designs reflect local traditions.
In Aden a crown resembling a pointed dome developed, through which the Torah finials passed. This crown, which was not affixed to the wooden case in this community, was designed like a "parasol crown", the large parasol-shaped crown that rose above rulers' heads in Central Asian cultures. This type of crown arrived in Aden via India. While the artwork was crafted by-a local Jew in the late 19th century, the influence of Indian silversmiths living in Aden is extremely evident.
The Torah crown of Spain developed into a coronet shape. This shape allowed the crown and the Torah finials to be used together. This type of Torah crown spread along with the Jews who were expelled from Spain, predominantly to Italy and the Balkans. The Torah finials, which were called "apples" in the Sephardic communities, ascend relatively high in order to protrude above the tall crown.
The Torah crowns of Central and Eastern Europe were designed in the shape of a coronet with branches that closed over it at the top. The closed shape of the European crown did not allow the crown and the Torah finials to be used together, thus a tradition of using the Torah finials on weekdays and the crown on the Sabbath and holidays developed. Among the Torah crowns from Poland there are unusually high crowns made up of three smaller crowns one atop the other. This type of crown stemmed from the words of Rabbi Shimon: "There are three crowns; the crown of Torah, the crown of priesthood and the crown of kingship" (Mishnah, Avot 4:13).